Beginner’s Guide: How to Build a Killer Instagram Following and Increase Your Sales

Beginner’s Guide: How to Build a Killer Instagram Following and Increase Your Sales
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instagram
Written by Neil Patel on April 3, 2016
With over 2.8 billion active users in 2017 worldwide, social media has become a terrific channel for businesses to connect with their customers, build brand awareness, and improve their marketing strategy.
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And, if your target audience loves visuals, then you cannot afford to ignore the platform that sees 80 million photo updates every day…
With over 2 billion active users worldwide, social media has become a terrific channel for businesses to connect with their customers.
Instagram.
And, if your target audience loves visuals, then you cannot afford to ignore the platform that sees 70 million photo updates everyday…
In particular, businesses belonging to the fashion, travel, or food industry have a terrific opportunity to engage with their audience on the app you can download for free -Instagram.
Instagram.
Yet, only 30% of businesses are active on social media have an Instagram account. You might think that low business adoption rate will mean that you’ll face lower competition and see higher social engagement and more free Instagram followers.
In particular, businesses belonging to the fashion, travel or food industry have a terrific opportunity to engage with their audience on Instagram.
Want to increase your sales for free on Instagram? Then download this how-to guide to learn how to gain followers on the Instagram mobile app.
Yet, only 30% of businesses are active on social media use Instagram. You might think that low business adoption rate will mean that you’ll face lower competition and see higher social engagement on Instagram.
Instagram has seen user growth skyrocket to over 700 million users in 2017 from nothing in just the last seven years.
Want to increase your sales through Instagram? Then download this how to guide to learn how to increase your followers in instagram.
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And that’s partially correct – Forrester, in its 2015 analysis of top 50 global brands, found that Instagram remains the undisputed king of per-follower interaction rate.
That’s not even the best part, though. This next part is.
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Brands are seeing an average of four times the engagement than on Facebook. While media companies, in particular, are seeing up to 10-12 times more engagement!
The bad news is that this interaction has fallen to half of its 2014 per-follower engagement rate of 4.213%. This signals that many brands have joined the visual platform for promoting their businesses and are regularly post updates. More content means a lower engagement rate.
With the increase in frequency of updates, an Instagram user misses 70% of posts from the accounts they follow.
The danger, though, is that more and more businesses posting more and more content could lead to fewer eyeballs for everyone else.
To solve the issue, Instagram recently announced that they’ll use an algorithm to show users the posts that interest them. They’ll also use your “relationship with the person and the timeliness of the post” for filling your feed.
For example, with the increase in the frequency of updates on the Instagram feed, a free Instagram follower misses 70% of posts from the accounts they follow.
To solve the issue, Instagram recently announced that they’ll use an algorithm to show users the posts that interest them. They’ll also use your “relationship with the person and the timeliness of the post” for filling your free Instagram feed.
Deja vu?
Deja vu?
Yep, Instagram is following Facebook’s suite.
Yep, Instagram is following Facebook’s suite.
This means that you can’t simply rely on real-time industry updates or increase your posting frequency to get real estate in more of your follower feeds. You’ve got to focus more on your audience preferences and use innovative techniques to engage with them.
This means that you can’t simply rely on real-time industry updates or increase your Instagram photo or posting frequency to get real estate in more of your follower feeds. You’ve got to focus more on your free Instagram followers preferences and use innovative techniques to engage with them.
I’ve put together 11 tips to help you gain more free followers on Instagram, increase your engagement rate with your target audience, and drive sales via better brand awareness.
Let’s begin.
1. Create an Instagram Strategy
Years ago, Facebook introduced their ‘EdgeRank’ algorithm. The purpose was to automatically filter and decide which content gets through to people who follow you vs. which content would be restricted.
They used a number of different criteria, like the type of post (video vs. text) and recency (new vs. old) to determine who sees what. The ‘higher’ your post performed, the more people it would eventually be exposed to.
Facebook EdgeRank Formula
‘EdgeRank’ has moved on to greener pastures since then. But Facebook still uses algorithms to increasingly filter out the noise for its users.
There are so many people, so many businesses, posting so many things. And so your ‘organic’ reach (or the ability of your page fans to see what you’re posting without advertising) continues to fall as a result.
There’s no beating around the bush, here. There’s just too much stuff to go around and not enough people to view it all.
Don’t look now, but the same thing is happening on Instagram.
Today there are already over 700 million users and counting. And they’ve racked those up in a fraction of the time it took Facebook originally.
So today, good enough isn’t good enough. ‘Average’ stuff doesn’t have a chance at breaking through.
Instead, you’ve got to stand out. You’ve got to push the bar and raise the game in order to be head and shoulders above everyone else.
That’s not easy, though.
Not when you’re competing against other style mavens and professional photographers. We’re talking about professional content creators in most cases who consistently churn out a steady stream of beautiful photos for Instagram.
So their audiences have become spoiled. People log in to Instagram expecting to see greatness.
Here’s why that matters.
Today there are over two million blog posts published daily. That means any given topic you’re about to write a blog post about has already been covered hundreds (if not thousands) of times.
So what’s the solution? (And what does this have to do with Instagram?!)
Somehow, someway, you’re going to have to raise the bar. Here’s where to start.
Start by carving out a unique point of view. A strategy for what’s going to be posted and why.
This gives you a foundation to tell stories that extend your view. It will illustrate the ‘mission’ you’re on and give people a compelling reason why they should ultimately care.
The reason this same strategy works so well on Instagram is that people don’t care about you! (Harsh, but true.)
Let’s be honest with each other for a reason:
People don’t want to follow brands.
Why would you?
Do you seriously care about the latest updates from a dog food company? Of course not. Especially if all they did was post dumb updates about themselves.
But if they could talk about why they do what they do, instead, they would suddenly become a lot more interesting.
Take Petsmart. Instead of just bombarding their users with update after update on their products, they promote the mission. They partner with shelters. They raise money and awareness to donate in order to improve the lives of pets around the world. And that’s why people love them on Instagram.
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Obviously, Instagram is going to be best suited for B2C products, lifestyle brands, and ecommerce companies who are able to show off their personality.
The demographic still skews younger (think: millennials). So driving sales for high-priced B2B services isn’t likely. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, either.
For example, MailChimp has been able to create a warm-and-fuzzy brand online with their little mascot, Freddie the Chimp. And they’ve been able to carry that lovable branding through to what they’re posting on Instagram, too.
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Now let’s also compare that to what the Stone Brewing Company is doing.
Admittedly, alcohol brands have it easy. Their product is light-hearted and fun (for the most part). It’s easy to associate what they do with why people like them.
Except Stone doesn’t rest on their laurels. Instead, they continue their brand’s brash, snarky, whimsical tone through to each and every Instagram post.
For example, this picture really does say a thousand words:
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There are so many things going on here.
The professionally-staged photo of a dog in an Ewok costume is funny by itself. But then it works even better because they’ve also gone to great lengths of creating a limited-time only beer with the same theme.
The result? Over 6,700+ likes within just a few days of it being posted. That’s A TON!
This wasn’t a trick or gimmick, either. If you scroll through their Instagram feed, you’ll see lots more of the same.
Their brand’s voice and point of view come through loud and clear. And that’s why people love them.
Especially when you compare them to their competitors.
Look:
You may have never even heard of Stone Brewing before.
They’re one of the largest craft breweries in the US. They’re based in San Diego and perhaps best known for their Arrogant Bastard Ale or Stone IPA.
They’ve been growing like a weed over the past decade or so. But they’re still relatively small and unknown.
Especially when you compare them with other well-known beer companies like Budweiser, Miller, or Coors. These companies are behemoths in comparison.
Everyone’s heard of those companies. They’re massive. We might not all be able to agree on how tasty their goods are, but you undoubtedly know who they are.
And yet… Budweiser’s Instagram account only has 242k people following them (compared with Stone’s 311k+).
Following counts aren’t everything, of course. But the fact that Stone has more, despite a fraction of the market share, brand awareness, and marketing budget, shows you the power of Instagram.
Budweiser’s trying to get better. They are posting ‘hip’ photos of staged events like the one below:
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But again, the engagement (compared with Stone’s) is abysmal.
Only 1,600+ likes on something over three months old. (Compared with 6,700+ on Stone’s six-day-old one). And then half of the comments on Budweiser’s are fake or spammy.
So even if you know zero about Instagram before reading this guide, a few things should already stick out.
Marketing budgets don’t equal Instagram success.
For example, check out this beautiful, Apple-esque product shot:
race car product shot
Nice, right?
Would you believe that this came from a $50 ecommerce photography studio rigged up by BigCommerce?!
budget product photo setup
See?
You can still produce excellent results with a little ingenuity and a strong strategy.
You don’t need to be a huge, well-known brand (as Stone vs. Budweiser has shown). And you also don’t need big bucks, either (like this last photography examples shows).
Big brands often miss the mark with overly produced, ‘staged’ photos. They’re trying to do too much, ‘forcing’ it instead of just acting natural and showcasing personality.
Whereas younger, hipper upstarts can often dominate with realism, humor, and a clear point of view that resonates with a core audience.
Stone posts more frequently sticks to a singular point of view and interacts with followers more. So it should be no surprise why they have more followers and significantly more engagement on each post.
Engagement, alone, isn’t the only goal of course. It’s a good start. And engagement is often overlooked because you can’t define it with a hard goal or conversion inside Google Analytics.
But Instagram is excellent at generating both top of the funnel brand awareness and building loyalty with those already drinking the Kool-Aid (so to speak).
Defining a goal helps give you a clear direction. For example, you could use Instagram for various reasons:
Build brand awareness faster than other methods (like billboards)
You can reduce the high costs that would have gone over to customer service and advertising
Or you can increase profitability by using this engagement to lead to more repurchases of your products or services.
All of those are fine. The point is to pick one and change your daily tactics (like what you’re posting, how frequently, etc.) to serve one (not all) of those.
For example, if brand awareness is your goal, you can monitor the number of new website visits generated over the past week, month, or longer. So you’d start by linking to your site directly in the Instagram bio section. Like Stone does here:
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You’ll also notice that this link is to a specific, campaign landing page (as opposed to their homepage).
At first, the “Enjoy By Chicken” link doesn’t make any sense. But it does when you read one of their latest posts:
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Once again, the image is high-quality. The chicken looks delicious (and the beer, refreshing). It’s a serious post, but comes off funny because you’re not expecting the beer-can chicken.
And you’ll notice that it fits perfectly into their goal.
Reading the caption shows you that this is one of their first canned-versions of this limited time only beer. So the seemingly random beer can chicken now makes perfect sense.
It’s funny and random. While being relevant to the launch of this new product line at the same time.
You’ll also notice that they call out the link in their bio so that you can get the same exact recipe. This is expert-level content marketing stuff.
They’re not selling their beer (directly). Instead, they’re trying to ‘bait’ you with a delicious chicken recipe, first.
Contrary to popular belief, though, this tactic is anything but new.
For example, when Jell-O was first introduced, nobody knew what to do with it. You had this weird, gelatinous mix. People weren’t quite sure what to make with it or why they even needed it in the first place.
So Jell-O turned to content marketing to fix the problem.
Keep in mind this was 1904.
Way before content marketing was a thing. And yet they created a recipe book — almost exactly like Stone is doing today on Instagram — to help people understand how to better enjoy their product.
jello recipe
There’s one more important thing to note about that Stone post that makes is such an awesome example. Here, I’ll zoom in on it:
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Hashtags. Tons of them!
Everything from their products (“#IPA”) to different local communities (“#SDbeer”) and the upcoming event they’re celebrating (“#IndependenceDay”).
Hashtags are a key ingredient to how other people are going to find out about your Instagram page. Here’s why.
2. Load up your updates with relevant hashtags
You might already know the effectiveness of popular hashtags in reaching a targeted audience on Twitter.
I’ve put together 5 tips to help you amplify your Instagram following, increase your engagement rate with your target audience and drive sales.
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Let’s jump to number 1.
But, how important are they on the Instagram website?
1. Load up your updates with relevant hashtags
I would say they are more important than all other social media accounts and platforms. Popular hashtags are the language in which free Instagram followers speak. A power user can be found loading even up to 30 hashtags in their update – the hashtag limit per post.
You might already know the effectiveness of hashtags in reaching a targeted audience on Twitter.
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You won’t need to worry about hashtag fatigue on Instagram. Rather, more popular hashtags equate to more likes on your Instagram photos.
But, how important are they on Instagram?
I would say they are more important than all other social media platforms. Hashtags are the language in which Instagram users speak. A power user can be found loading even up to 30 hashtags in their update – the hashtag limit per post.
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TrackMaven found that posts with 11+ hashtags get the maximum engagement from a free Instagram follower.
You won’t need to worry about hashtag fatigue on Instagram. Rather, more hashtags equates to more likes on your photos.
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TrackMaven found that posts with 11+ hashtags get the maximum engagement.
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So, how do you find relevant and popular hashtags to add to every Instagram photo?
So, how do you find relevant hashtags to add to every post?
The process is similar to performing keyword research – Record relevant hashtags that your competitors and brand advocates are using in their updates.
The process is similar to performing keyword research. Record relevant hashtags that your competitors and brand advocates are using in their updates and use this knowledge to gain followers.
You can also scroll through the 100 most popular hashtags compiled by Webstagram here. I’ve included the top 20 in the screenshot below.
You can also scroll through the 100 most popular hashtags compiled by Webstagram here. I’ve included the top 20 in the screenshot below.
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Adding popular hashtags will expand your post’s reach, but make sure that you use only the ones that are relevant to your products and suit your brand personality.
Adding popular hashtags will expand your post’s reach, but make sure that you use only the ones that are relevant to your products and suit your brand personality.
Otherwise, you’ll only see a short-term increase in your Instagram engagement, but your new followers won’t convert into additional sales.
Otherwise, you’ll only see a short-term increase in your engagement, but your new free Instagram followers won’t convert into additional sales.
Moreover, if you integrate less popular hashtags in your posts, then you’ll appear at the top of the search feeds for them. Scout low-competition Instagram hashtags (much like targeting long-tail keywords in your blog posts).
Insellycom uses a variety of Instagram hashtags in their updates, including popular ones (like #fashion), moderately popular ones (like #fashiondaily) and less popular ones (like #fashiontrend).
Moreover, if you integrate less popular hashtags in your posts, then you’ll appear at the top of the search feeds for them. Scout low-competition hashtags (much like targeting long-tail keywords in your blog posts).
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Insellycom uses a variety of hashtags in their updates, including popular ones (like #fashion), moderately popular ones (like #fashiondaily) and less popular ones (like #fashiontrend).
You can also scout for relevant popular hashtags by your product and brand categories and then group them in Evernote. Richard runs an ecommerce business, and he uses this technique to efficiently obtain more engagement from the free Instagram platform.
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You can also scout for relevant hashtags by your product and brand categories and then group them in Evernote. Richard runs an eCommerce business and he uses this technique to efficiently derive more engagement from Instagram.
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Pro Tip: Have you not been previously using relevant Instagram hashtags in your posts?
Pro Tip: Have you not been previously using relevant hashtags in your Instagram posts?
No worries.
No worries.
Revisit your older updates and add relevant hashtags in the comments. Your post will start showing up in the search feed for your added hashtags. You’ll see a bump in your engagement as well as new followers rolling in.
Revisit your older updates and add relevant hashtags in the comments. Your post will start showing up in the Instagram feed for your added hashtags. You’ll see a bump in your engagement as well as plenty more free Instagram followers rolling in.
2. Host a photo contest to engage your followers and expand your brand’s reach
Searching on Instagram isn’t as easy as Twitter or Facebook (especially on mobile devices). That’s why hashtags are critical. They help people discover you more easily by following relevant threads and seeing which new content pops up that day.
The same thing happens with location tagging.
Broadly there are 3 kinds of Instagram contests. “Like to win” and “email gated” are less participative. I recommend that you to launch the third type, a hashtag UGC (user-generated content) contest.
Let’s take a look at another example from Stone Brewing to see how this works. Look at the top of the post below (right under their name).
Inviting your community and encouraging them to create visual content will deepen your relationship with them, besides significantly increase your brand visibility.
Deftones conducted a photo contest that resulted in 20,000 new followers and 1,300 new Instagram posts tagged #deftones within 3 months.
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So, how do you launch your first contest?
You should see: “Horseshoe Bend.”
Pick a goal and define the metrics for evaluation of your contest’s performance. It can read like “increasing my followers by 25%” or “create 300 posts with @YourInstagramHandle”.
So now people that follow or love a particular location (in this case, Horseshoe Bend), can now discover your brand, too. Location tagging will make sure that you show up in this location’s stream.
You can conveniently collect relevant posts around a theme, by requesting submissions with a contest-specific hashtag. Esprit launched this type of photo contest, asking their customers to upload their submissions with #everydayamazing.
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This especially useful if you have a physical storefront, too. For example, brick-and-mortar locations can piggyback off the interest in your city, neighborhood, or retail center.
Next, pick a subject that will indulge your audience and create a shareable experience for them. For instance, Franworks restaurants launched the ‘Movember’ Mustache campaign on Instagram.
They provided mustache coasters and asked their customers to share their mustache pic with the restaurant’s tags (#statestache, #joesmos, #castlestache). They offered trips and restaurant gift cards as prizes, which is a great incentive to increase participation.
Here’s Stone tagging their location at Liberty Station in San Diego:
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It’s fun to participate in the contest for the users and it promotes Franworks in an authentic way.
If you want, you can check out the previous contests launched by your competitors at Iconosquare. Search for hashtags like #contest and #photocontest.
Liberty Station is in Point Loma, just minutes away from popular tourist destinations like Downtown, Mission Beach, the San Diego Zoo, and Seaworld.
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So by tagging this location, they’re hoping to pick up on all of the new visitors surrounding them.
Once you’ve finalized the contest details, take ample time to promote it. Start with a Facebook event like Buffalo Wings does below.
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Here’s the full stream for Liberty Station. You can tell it’s already a popular location with over 38,000 posts.
You can also pitch guest posts, send email announcements and use Facebook Ads to create a buzz.
Once the contest ends, you should announce the winners on your Facebook page or in a blog post.
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If you’re launching a contest on a large scale, then apps like Wishpond can help you with easy contest management.
So now Stone has used location tagging in order generate brand awareness (and follows) from people who’re at Liberty Station, located just outside, or thinking about going to Liberty Station in the near future.
3. Express yourself with the fastest growing language in UK history…
The last trick in the book is reposting and tagging.
This language can help you in humanizing your communications, thereby increasing your email open rates, engagement and conversions. And, it has seen an unprecedented adoption in UK.
This time, you’re encouraging others to do the promotion for you with an awesome incentive. That means giving your followers a chance to win something (discount coupon, product giveaway, etc.) if they repost your own message and tag your brand.
I am talking about emoticons.
This is viral marketing at its finest.
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You’re leveraging the ‘network effects’ on Instagram so that new fans of your own fans are finding you for the first time. And the best part of all is that you barely have to lift a finger!
With the launch of the emoji keyboard on iOS, emoji use has exploded on Instagram.
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Here’s a perfect example from kids retailer Little Baberham:
Nearly 50% of all captions and comments on Instagram have at least one emoji. So, it’s a no-brainer to integrate them in your updates to express yourself.
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So,what are the emojis that Instagram users like the most?
Simply Measured, in its analysis of 2500 Instagram posts, found that “love hearts” receive the maximum engagement per post. “Sparkles” and “artist palette” are the next two most engaging emojis on the list.
In this case, they’re giving away six new pairs of kids bell bottoms to ONE person. That last part’s important.
Here is the graph with analysis of the top 10 emojis vs. the engagement they get.
Why would one person want six versions of the same pants?!
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So that the people following will help recruit friends who they can share the ‘prize’ with!
While these emojis should be in your Instagram vocabulary, you should first understand how your audience communicates with them. Even different colored hearts have different meanings.
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Clever, right?
If you’re a newbie to emoticons, HubSpot’s Emoji Guide is a good place to start.
Once you’re familiar, here are 3 tips to extract maximum value from emojis and increase your following.
In order to win, they not only have to be following this brand, but they also have to “tag as many people as they want in separate comments.” And then each comment is counted as a separate entry!
1. Sue Zimmerman has used emoticons to increase her retail sales by 40%. She suggests using emoticons in 3 locations on your Instagram profile, for getting a massive boost in your engagement.
So the more people each follower brings to the party, the better their odds of success are. And the more followers Little Baberham is sure to gain in the process.
Once again, this is extremely easy to pull off. It’s ‘low-tech,’ so you don’t necessarily need anything else (like another application or piece of software) to help you organize it. Which means there are no excuses for running your own ASAP.
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You can even up the ante by partnering with other similar brands and offering one big prize. For example, you can create packages with companies that provide complementary products and who target the same customers.
Here is a video tutorial she has created to help you in strategically using emojis on Instagram.
2. On April 27, 2015 Instagram began allowing its users to hashtag emojis. This means that you can now search for emoticons on the explore page and tap them in your photo captions.
That way you can not only increase your reach of new friends of your fans but also the friends of fans that follow other brands, too.
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We talk in more detail about running contests in another section below (because they’re one of the best ways to quickly grow your follower count).
And, do Instagram users like this feature?
You bet.
But first, you need to understand how to react fast when things start taking off. Here’s how to respond (or search out) top content.
3. Find & Engage with Top Content
Everyone talks about ‘engagement’ on social media.
But no one bothers to ever define it.
Research by Curalate found that single-use emojis were hashtagged 6.4 million times within a month of their launch.
Why is that?
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I’m not going to introduce a new concept like that and then fail to give you the answer. So let’s walk through why engagement is so critical (and then later, what to do with it).
Further, half of the top 20 most hashtagged emojis are smileys. This brings us to the inherent trait of all social media – positive emotion is more contagious than negative. Here are the top 10 emoticons, as per Curalate.
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Engagement is critical on social media because it expands your potential reach.
Using emoji in your messages will help you express yourself without many words. You can leverage this universal language to connect deeper with your fans.
3. You can always post a normal comment or caption to appreciate cute pictures – “A really cute baby”.
There are two major metrics that go back decades in advertising:
But, if you want to grab attention, entertain your audience and keep them coming back for more, then you’ll need to get creative. And, emojis are a terrific visual way of doing that.
Frequency: The number of times you message the same person.
Reach: The number of new people who see your messages.
Frequency is important. But reach is critical if you ever want to build a big business because you need to consistently expose your brand to the most people possible. The only thing standing between you and success is eyeballs. And reach is how you get there.
You can follow the lead of ps.ny, in Sue’s post below. Her comment reads “How ador:)ble and aw:)some!!!”
We talked earlier about how competition is at an all-time high on big social media networks (and showing no signs of slowing down). As a result, these social media platforms are using carefully tailored algorithms to help filter out what gets through (and what doesn’t).
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One of the primary things they look for is whether or not your posts are relevant to each person it’s shown to. And many times, that’s based on whether or not they’re engaging with your content (or have engaged in the past).
Similarly, ArnoldGrape used emoji creatively, in a comment on the crushsocial post below. Instead of the vanilla “awesome”, his comment reads “keep [emoji]’n in the [emoji] [emoji]”.
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For example, look up your most popular posts recently on almost any social network, and you’ll see something that looks like this:
You can get more tips from Anthony Thompson for tripling your Instagram engagement with emoji Instagram comments here.
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There’s a clear correlation between the number of engagements a post sees, and subsequently how far it can reach.
In other words, get more engagement, and you’ll be ‘rewarded’ by being exposed to more people (because it’s now seen as ‘top content’).
But don’t wait for others to start engaging with your content. You can (and should) lead the charge. So get started by engaging with your content to (hopefully) transform it into ‘top content.’
That starts with the basics, like responding to other people’s likes and comments.
For example, we just saw the kids clothing company, Little Baberham, running a giveaway. Here they are again, in the same exact post, responding and engaging with people who’re asking questions.
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That back-and-forth engagement not only makes people feel like they’re being heard, but it also drives up the comment count and engagement ratio (comments per post).
Commenting on your own content also gives you a secondary benefit, too.
A ‘half-life’ is used to explain how much time it takes for a social media post to reach at least half of the people who will eventually see it. So a half-life can help tell you how long your post will be relevant for.
And on today’s social platforms, the short answer is: Not very long. For example, an Instagram post is only relevant for about one hour:
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In other words, more than half of all the people who will ever see (and engage) with your post have done so within just a single hour!
Crazy, right? That’s nothing in internet time.
4. Use the right filters and post high-quality content regularly
Continuing to post and update older content, though, will help keep it relevant. You’ll be able to extend the usefulness of that post in order to maximize the amount of people who end up seeing it.
With algorithmic changes hitting Instagram feeds, posting quality images has become even more important. Indeed, Instagram accounts that post superior graphics have been found to get away with higher frequency.
You can (and should) also do this strategy on other people’s top posts in order to bring back attention (and followers) to your own page.
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For example, let’s zoom back to the very top of the original Little Baberham giveaway update.
Moreover, Instagramers respond favorably to a select few filters. As per research done at Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs, filtered photos are 21% more likely to get viewed and 45% more likely to get comments.
So, which filters work the best?
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Track Maven found that using “no filter” and “Inkwell” in your photos will drive the most interaction.
The first comment is from St. Eve Jewelry, who’s raising the roof emoji-style.
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The roof is not my son. But I will raise it. Imgur
While the above filters are good starting points for experimentation, your audience might have a different favorite filter. You need to dig into your own account’s performance, using a tool like Iconosquare.
Once you get your own graphs correlating engagement with filters, you’ll be able to judge your audience preferences. If you are just starting out with Instagram and don’t have a large following, study your competitors to see what’s working for them.
Let’s click on their profile, though, to check out who they are and what they do.
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Pro Tip: Do you know that Instagram also allows users to post up to 15 seconds of video content? But, as per April 2015 research by Locowise, only 10.81% of Instagram posts are in video format. Yet, they get 17.51% of all comments.
This is an untapped opportunity for you to increase engagement. Get started with Instagram video here.
When we do that, it quickly becomes obvious that this is another relevant shop that features many of the same style wares.
5. Shell out some dollars on Instagram celebrities for getting sponsored placements
So what’s happening here?
St. Eve Jewelry has successfully ‘piggybacked’ on the other brand. They’re capitalizing on someone else’s top content as a way to expose people to who they are and what they do.
Traditional advertising on Instagram is lucrative, but it will have a learning curve. That’s why I want to introduce you to an unconventional Instagram advertising strategy that has helped me generate $332,640 in 3 months.
It also works perfectly in this case because they’re complementary products that are virtually the same style. So if people like one brand, they’re going to probably like the other one, too.
The method involves reaching out to Instagram users with a large following (20k – 200k) and requesting that they promote your product.
There are two strategies for doing this.
Win-win.
1. You pay them upwards of $20 per sponsored post (cost is dependent on the influencer’s size of following). Look at how Maxim model Ashley Sky promotes Your Tea in the post below and it gets incredible engagement from her followers.
4. Find & Share User Generated Content
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Creating your own professional-looking photography doesn’t have to be overly expensive (as we saw earlier).
2. The more natural (non-salesy) way is sending your product to the user and asking them to review it. Remember authenticity helps in increasing engagement.
I managed to get 2,570 email optins by spending $75,000 on such Instagram placements.
But it’s still incredibly time-consuming. Especially when you consider how many photos you’ll have to produce to keep up with several posts per day (due to the short half-life of each one on Instagram).
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So share the workload.
Men’s fashion startup, Bachelr paid $50 per image to tastefully promote their products through large men’s fashion Instagram accounts.
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Find bloggers and customers who are willing to take photos of your products or services in action, and then re-promote their content for your own fans.
The result?
A flood of traffic that crashed their servers.
This cuts down on your own workload. But it also has the power to deliver better results, too. For example, Buffer’s used an Instagram UGC strategy to gain 60% more followers in less than three months.
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Wall decal store Walls Need Love will partner with bloggers, giving them products or signing them up for a revenue-sharing agreement, in order to use their awesome product shots.
So, how do you find Instagram celebrities with a massive following?
Take out your list of popular industry hashtags (that you created in strategy 1) and search for them in Webstagram. You’ll find the top Instagram users that feature these keywords.
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This strategy is not dependent on a big budget. You can look lower on the celebrity list and find the ones that might have a smaller following, but are still within your budget.
Not only are they using a ton of relevant hashtags, but they’re also creating their own here, too. That way they’re able to give credit where credit’s due while increasing their reach at the same time.
Conclusion
Here’s another perfect example of the original poster listed in the first comment.
Among all social media platforms, Instagram still generates the highest user engagement for brands. It is fertile for building deep relationships with your customers and generating sales.
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The five strategies I shared in the article are proven to increase your engagement. I would like to wrap up with this brilliant infographic by Made Freshly that summarizes a perfect Instagram post.
In a few minutes, we’ll talk about how
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